E-commerce has always been a better chance for your business to survive. Whether you currently own a physical store or you are starting from ground zero, you will find a comprehensive guide for all your needs in this post.
Statista.com reports that e-commerce revenues are expected to grow by 56% in 2015-2020. Traditional markets, on the other hand, are only expected to grow by a measly 2% within the same time. This means it is a wonderful time for you to start your e-commerce store. Nevertheless, you must come well-equipped if you want to be successful in e-commerce.
Here is a simple guide to help you start an eCommerce business from scratch.
Consider your preferences
This is a very critical stage in starting an e-commerce store. Here, you are assessing yourself before launch, so you can properly equip yourself before you begin. Nothing hurts like getting half-way into a journey, and discovering you started on the wrong track.
You need to answer the following questions.
- How passionate are you about running an e-commerce store?
- Do you have the confidence that you can execute your idea?
- What is your primary drive? Is it more personal than financial, or an equal mix of both?
- Do you see a way of making money to justify your efforts and sustain your business?
- How much do you have to spend to get started?
When you take time to answer these questions, you begin to get to know how ready you are to start an e-commerce store.
Consider your business model options
As a beginner, do you wish to start selling your products, or do you like to go into retailing? Your response to this question will determine the business model that may suit you. Some business models are given below:
Affiliate Marketing: You don't need to create your products or services. You earn commissions for promoting and selling other people's products and services. If you are on a low-budget, starting with this business model could be appealing. However, you must know that you are promoting someone else's brand if you choose affiliate marketing.
Dropshipping: Here, you serve as a middle man. You list manufacturers' products on your store. When a buyer places an order on your online store, you contact the manufacturer who ships the product to the buyer's address. You also get paid for every successful order. Since you are not selling your products, the startup cost is relatively lower.
Subscriptions: Do you have a string of services or products that can satisfy customers yearnings? You chose periodic subscription plans and ensure you deliver on customer's expectations in terms of quality and efficiency.
Warehousing: Do you already have a physical store of products or you intend to sell your products? This means you will have to spend more on the packaging, shipping, and so on.
Manufacturing: You have made your products based on specific perceived consumer needs, and you want to offer them to customers online. Add the cost of production to a warehousing budget.
Once you consider the pros and cons of each business model, you'll be able to make your most preferred choice or combination of choices.
Choose a niche
Whether you are creating your product or not, it is better to make niche research before choosing what product to sell. You get to determine major players in a potential niche. You can estimate the level of competition and weigh your chances of survival in the niche before you make your choice. Make sure to pick a niche that is fairly competitive as this indicates an active market. Avoid niches that are dominated by a few major brands or the overcrowded ones. Remember to make your niche as narrow as possible to minimize competition. You can get promising niches by searching best-seller items on Amazon, and narrowing your search to see how many players are selling some of the best-selling items.
Create a persona
What do you want your store to be noted for? You determine what image you want your e-commerce store to project to your customers. If you decide on the home appliance niche, you remember to brand your website accordingly. Your persona will tell you more about what products your buyers will expect to find on your store.
Choose your products/services
One fact you must face in the online market is that buyers determine what sells in the market. Of course, you may use your marketing skills to get customers to buy your innovative products or services. However, you'll quickly make more sales with little advertising effort if you offer what customers already need and are willing to pay for. This is not to discourage your innovative product. It is to warn you of the impending risks of starting with a new product.
How do I know which product to choose?
Doing online research is crucial at this stage. You need to know what products people need and are willing to pay for. You can search for Google Trends for hot-selling products. Checking for trending products on Instagram and Amazon can also help.
If you want to market your products, you'll need to find out what your competitors are offering. Check users' reviews on the top brands. This will help you find a competitive edge. You will be able to decide whether or not to modify your pre-existing products to align with the needs of your online customers. Then you can determine a pricing strategy that will attract customers and keep you in profit.
Once you've found the products of your choice, you determine the business model you want to adopt and act accordingly.
Write a business plan
If you follow the steps above, a lot of ideas will begin to flood your mind. Do not think your success is automatically guaranteed. Write a business plan just like you would do for a physical business. This will give you a track to run on and increase your chances of success.
Register your business
Having your business registered is non-negotiable. Check for your state or country requirements. Research online or reach out to people who are already into e-commerce for directions on the registration process.
Create your brand
You need a brand that matches the persona you chose previously for your business. You can create logos yourself or hire people to help you with branding. If you are manufacturing, this step is crucial and is worth investing in. If you are dropshipping or retailing, you may spend less on branding. The point is to make sure that at a glance, your brand tells as much as possible about your business.
Get an e-commerce website
There are lots of e-commerce websites online that you can choose from. Shopify and Magento are quite popular. You can find more sites, compare their prices and features. Check for themes that match your brand. You also need to consider magento 2 speed optimization, compatibility with mobile devices, and users' security. Depending on your budget, you may choose to set up your online store yourself or seek professional assistance.
Setup customer service
Before you launch, ensure that you set up your customer service channel. Will you be attending to customers via emails only or you'll add a customer care line to receive calls? Be sure about how you intend to handle a few customer care issues before you launch.
You have everything set, and you are ready to launch. Test run your e-commerce store by inviting your trusted friends and colleagues to use your site and give you unbiased feedback. You can work on their feedback and make necessary adjustments before you launch. Sometimes what you think is perfect, still may need some little modifications.
Bravo! You've made it this far. It is time to take a step of faith. Launch your e-commerce business and be ready to make the necessary adjustments to achieve success.
You must have identified the modes of advertisement you want to use when you were writing your business plan. Now is the time to implement them. Don't underestimate the potentials of word of mouth. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues. Ensure you can track the effectiveness of each source of traffic (facebook ads, PPC, or blogs) you use. This will help you maximize your traffic in generating more sales.
As your customer base grows, you will need to upgrade many aspects of your business. Take the initiative and act accordingly. Use your customer reviews and complains to your advantage. Once you keep meeting their needs, they are most likely to remain loyal to you. You can also expect them to recommend your store to their contacts.
Continuous learning matters
In the e-commerce climate, a lot of changes can occur in a short period. New products are emerging from your niche, better plug-ins to enhance your store, new advertising strategies, and so on. You need to position yourself to take advantage of these opportunities to boost your business. Signup for an e-commerce newsletter or training program. Get a mentor and watch your competitors keenly.
Starting an eCommerce business from scratch is not necessarily dreadful. With adequate preparation, guidance, and perseverance, you can own and run that profitable eCommerce store you dream of.
Feel free to drop your comments and questions. You'll get our attention.